DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 50min
DIRECTED BY: Richard Lowenstein and Lynn-Maree Milburn
Trailblazer: Howard (in an undated photo)
Rock ’n’ roller Rowland S. Howard, who died on December 30, 2009, aged 50, of liver cancer, lived his truth through his musical statements. Howard’s emergence on the 1977 Melbourne punk scene, the layers of the indelible song “Shivers”, which he wrote at age 16, his teaming with singer-songwriter Nick Cave in their band the Birthday Party, were all done with a trailblazing sense of self that belied his wood-sprite looks and emotional fragility.
Decades later, those who knew and played with him — Cave, Lydia Lunch, Wim Wenders and Henry Rollins among them — remember Howard’s fierce, defining guitar work with an immediacy bordering on reverence. Milburn and Lowenstein’s time capsule also features footage of a sleepy-eyed Howard reflecting on his work and letting rip onstage. The directors absolutely get the funnelling of his ego and energy into his blistering music: for those who know Howard’s score, Autoluminescent will be a feast of memories. For those who don’t, it’s a spin-out of wild and inspiring times.